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How Long Will Your Visa Wait Be?

Knowing how long before you will be interviewed at a consular post abroad – such as the US Embassy in Manila - is critically important. Some applicants resign from their jobs, or sell properties in anticipation of being issued their immigrant visas, only to be disappointed by a retrogression or moving backwards of visa priority dates.

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How Long Will Your Visa Wait Be?
Written by Crispin Aranda.
Posted on April 7, 2012

What is a priority date?  There are two types: the priority date of a Family-sponsored petition (F1, F2A, F2B, F3 and F4) and the priority date of an Employment-based petition such as the EB3 for Skilled Workers and Professionals. 

 For Family-sponsored petitions, the priority date is the date the visa petition was officially received and acknowledged by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

 For Employment-based petitions, the priority date is the date that the permanent labor certification was received and acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

 Because there are more visa applicants than visas available in both Family and Employment-based categories, there is a long wait before a visa interview could be scheduled.  Quite often, what maybe current this month may move back (retrogress) next month, even if a specific immigrant visa category moves more than two years within a year.

 Take the F1 and F3 categories for example. In 2010, both categories moved more than 2 years that year. Then it retrogressed in December 2010 and then slowly crawled back to the pre-retrogression date.  It is important to know when you should start preparing and obtaining documents, then sending them to the National Visa Center so that when your priority date becomes current, you would be ready for the interview instead of only starting to prepare your documents when your priority date becomes current.

 Starting May 2012 and onwards, the U.S. State Department announced the pace by which priority dates would be moving.  See details of the announcement, below.

FAMILY-sponsored categories (monthly)

  • Worldwide dates:
  • F1: four to six weeks
  • F2A: up to two and one half months
  • F2B: three to six weeks
  • F3: three to six weeks
  • F4: three to five weeks

EMPLOYMENT-based categories (monthly)

Employment First (EB1) : Current

Employment Second (EB2) Worldwide: Potential need for cut-off date to be established

China and India: Potentially “Unavailable”

Employment Third (EB3

  • Worldwide: three to five weeks
  • China: up to six weeks
  • India: up to two weeks
  • Mexico: three to five weeks
  • Philippines: three to five weeks

Employment Fourth: Current

Employment Fifth: Current

 For immigrant visa concerns, priority dates, visa availability and being documentarily qualified, please call the Immigrant Visa Center at (02) 634-8717.  For visa and migration options to other countries, send your complete, updated resumes to

About the Author

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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